I just read through a new brochure from the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists (AWAB), entitled “Queer & Faithful?” It’s a sort of “entry-level” document for people, whether gay or straight, Christian or non-Christian, who question if it’s even possible to be an LGBTQ Christian. Some of us are way past those sorts of questions, but it’s a helpful reminder that a lot of people have not yet made the journey we have made. Some LGBTQ persons still wonder if their orientation indicates that they are essentially flawed and ineligible for God’s love. Some straight Christians may want to become welcoming and affirming but worry that to do so would make them disobedient to God’s scriptural commands. Some of the people we will encounter at the Pride festival will fall into these camps. Others will have already written off the church entirely, or will have come armed with megaphones and Bible verses to demand conformity to their narrow version of the Christian faith and their binary understanding of human sexuality.
Most of us grew up with that same binary understanding. I know I did, anyway. There are boys and there are girls. Boys like girls and girls like boys, and when they grow up they get married and have baby boys or baby girls, and the cycle repeats. If you run across a girl who likes girls, or a boy who likes boys, or a girl or boy who likes both, or a girl who thinks she’s a boy, or something along those lines, you have encountered an aberration. Those people are confused or sick or perverted, and “normal” people are justified in shunning them or making fun of them or worse. I was raised with this kind of worldview. My dad never tried to hide his sense of contempt and disgust when the subject of “queers” came up. It took me a long time to break free from that legacy and learn a new way of looking at the world.
The “Queer & Faithful?” brochure puts it this way: “Difference of sexual orientation and gender identity are not ‘sins’ from which to repent or ‘sicknesses’ to be cured. They are, instead, important markers of human difference that serve as living witnesses to the wide diversity and deep beauty of God’s creation. They are cause for wonder and celebration (not cure)!”
Or, as Hamlet says, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
As disciples of Jesus Christ, shouldn't we approach the world with the sense of openness Hamlet indicates? We are not the same; we don’t have to be the same; the world would be a terribly boring place if we were all the same. Let us open our minds and hearts to the wonderful rainbow diversity of God’s creation; let us open our arms to those who are different from us; and let us open up our philosophy to take in more of what God wants to show us in heaven and earth.